The Q&A Archives: Peach tree leaves are red and curled

Question: My six year old peach tree leaves are red and curled each spring. What's harming my tree? J. Greenburg Berwick, PA

Answer: Your peach has leaf curl, says Rob Crassweller, professor of tree fruits at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. This fungal disease overwinters on peach tree twigs and migrates to the emerging leaves in humid, wet weather when temperaturesare between 50oFand 60oF. The leaves curl, turn red and eventually drop, says Crassweller. Typically, the disease will develop early the first year and the tree may grow through it and appear fine. But once established in the area, the leaf curl will return, becoming progressively worse each year. Eventually the tree will be debilitated. Once you see the symptoms, it's too late to stop the organism that season. But spraying a fungicide when the trees are dormant can prevent damage the next year. Apply one application of Bordeaux mix in fall after leaf drop, or in spring before bud swell. It's important to spray the fungicide before the leaves emerge, as it can damage them, he explains.

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